Kevin Garside: Liverpool and Luis Suarez could have acted with grace - instead they emerge as villains over the biting incident

The striker was today handed a 10-game ban - a decision Liverpool look likely to appeal against

The independent panel erred on the side of reason with their ten-match ban for Luis Saurez. His acceptance of guilt was undone to a degree by his plea for a lesser penalty. Three he thought would do, demonstrating how little he understood the revulsion of English football for the craven savagery of biting.

How it compares to the eight-match ban for racist abuse is a debate for another day. Clearly both offences are unacceptable and would not be tolerated in kids let alone adults. There have been some thoughtful words spent on this issue from Liverpool folk. No less a figure than Jamie Carragher rolled out a host of previous offences by former Kop greats that did not meet with the same moral opprobrium as this act of madness.

The problem for Suarez is the pattern involved. He has bitten before. Once we can tolerate. Twice looks like he doesn't care. The racism incident does not help for it colours our view of what type of individual he appears to be. Though we should perhaps tread cautiously with that approach since none of us know him like his colleagues.

If Carragher is prepared to vouch for him there is, arguably, a well-adjusted soul in the Saurez interior somewhere. Perhaps it would have been better had he and his apologists not sought to shift the ground from the moral to the legal and accepted unconditionally any punishment the authorities deemed appropriate.

Instead a campaign to lessen the blow with a lighter sentence diminished the value of his contrition. Had he and Liverpool said nothing except sorry, awaited a verdict and accepted it with grace, he might not be quite the villain he appears now.

There will be some who argue that any club would have acted in the same way to defend their interest and the player's. That might be so but the answer to that is the interests of the game are greater than both. The ban reflects that. 

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